Word Origin & History


1798, from Cannabis , Mod.L. plant genus named (1728), from Gk. kannabis  “hemp,” a Scythian or Thracian word. Also source of Rus. konoplja,  Pers. kanab , Lith. kanapes  “hemp,” and English canvas and possibly hemp.

Cannabis in the Bible

Whether or not the plant in this following section is actually Cannabis (due to linguistic barriers and translations) or not is irrelevant. God made it and put it here for our appropriate use as seen in Genesis. The following is to stimulate contemplation and research. It may bring the scriptures and the ancient Hebrew into a perspective not commonly seen in modern day religion. I don’t want to do like many, taking and using the scriptures out of context. I’ve seen those that try to make their case for Cannabis use the bible and they are just way off, unfortunately many don’t study their bibles. I’m here to point out where in the scriptures references to Cannabis are made. This is more to stimulate you to study it in the scriptures for yourself, and have a glimpse of how in the history of Israel this plant was utilized. Unfortunately we lose a lot of meaning and wealth from words in modern translation and in our language and dialect due to the numerous translations that have occurred over the thousands of years. But slowly we are learning and gaining more facts and truths as we continue to study and examine. Look at how the Church has changed since the days of Constantine. Luther nailed the 95 thesis onto that Catholic Church door and there has been an on going progression ever since. In the dark ages, only high ranking church officials were able to read and study the bible, this took much time and money. You were told what it said, or so you thought. You were told what to believe. Thank God today we can read and study for our selves, with a chance to hear from God’s Word.          

Around 1980, etymologists at Hebrew University in Jerusalem confirmed that cannabis is mentioned in the scriptures, in a list of measured ingredients for the holy anointing oil found in Exodus 30:23.

Anthropologists including, Vera Rubin, have noted cannabis many times in the Old Testament scriptures, used in oils and incense during worship. In 1936 Scholars discovered in the scriptures the Hebrew term “kaneh bosm” as a reference to cannabis. Scholars have noted that the Hebrew texts refer to cannabis within incense and oil being an integral part of religious celebration.  

Exodus 30:23 

“..Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane…”  (ESV)

Aromatic cane in this passage is actually kaneh bosm in the ancient tongue which is what we know as Cannabis. The word kaneh bosm is also rendered in the traditional Hebrew as kannabos or kannabus. The root “kan” in this construction means “reed” or “hemp”, while “bosm” means “aromatic”. The word kaneh bosm has been mistranslated as calamus, a common marsh plant with little monetary value that does not have the qualities ascribed to kaneh-bosm. Some translations say cane, calamus, and a few other variations, but they are all mistranslated. The error occurred in the oldest Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible and carried on there-after.  

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of kaneh-bosm, 500 shekels of cassia–all according to the sanctuary shekel–and a hind of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.” Exodus 30:23

It is noted that the Assyrians used hemp as incense in the seventh or eighth century B.C. and called it ‘Qunubu’, a term apparently borrowed from an old East Iranian word ‘Konaba’, the same as the Scythian name ‘cannabis’. In the ancient Judaic world, the vapors from burnt spices and aromatic gums were considered part of the pleasurable act of worship. As we know, Moses and his priests burned incense and used the holy ointment in the portable ‘tent of meeting’; Tent of the Tabernacle. Many of today’s readers may not think anything of the verses that talk about incense being burned in Jewish worship.


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